Susan Cain opens her book Quiet with an example all of us of a certain age are familiar with…the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a bus that precipitated significant changes in society. Yet Parks was not a loud, boisterous woman. She was known as “timid and shy”…but also courageous.
Cain takes a long, hard look at our society and how we value (or not) individuals. Western societies seem to be built on and value those who are outgoing, assertive, sometimes loud and aggressive–the ones we commonly refer to as extroverts. Eastern societies seem to be more focused on valuing those who are quieter and empathetic–those we refer to as introverts.
It would be easy to put individuals into one category or the other, but Cain does not fall into that trap. Nor does she fall into the trap of calling one personality/behavior “bad” and the other “good.” Instead, she finds value in both extroverts and introverts, pointing out that they need each other in order to find balance. Our problem as a society comes when we value and respond to those who demand our attention while ignoring those who may have different perspectives but who–because of their quietness–are easy to be ignored.
As I read this book, I found it explaining much of how I have felt through the years–along with some valuable suggestions for learning how to function as an introvert more effectively in an extrovert society, but without losing my sense of who I am.
This is a valuable book for many to read–parents, teachers, office managers…and individuals who want to find out more about themselves and their partners and friends and how to relate to each other more effectively.
This book was provided free of charge from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for reviewing it.